Florence hovers over coastal states, raising fears of epic flooding

The child´s injured father was taken to a hospital. In the state´s Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. So far, at least three people have died because of the storm, including a mother and infant who were in a Mercer Avenue house when it was struck by a felled tree.

A 78-year-old man in Kinston, North Carolina, was electrocuted when he tried to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.

North Carolina's governor Roy Cooper said: "Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".

On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 193kph winds.

In total, Florence is forecast to dump about18 trillion gallons of rain over North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Maryland before the storm is over.

The storm made landfall on Friday near Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 squeezed between North Carolina's Atlantic coastline and the Cape Fear River.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU" - that's what the city of New Bern, North Carolina, tweeted after hundreds of people needed rescue from rising waters from the Neuse River, and a TV station had to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of its hurricane coverage.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people were safely rescued in the town of 30,000 residents.

Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

Firefighters said the area had not been in the zone under evacuation orders. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".

"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.

"High winds and severe flooding from Hurricane Florence will impede the pace of our outage restoration efforts".

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 964,000 customers in that state and SC. More than 22,600 people were housed in 150 shelters statewide. Numerous evacuees took their pets. As of Saturday, Fayetteville has received 2.5 inches of rain but heavier rain are expected this afternoon, with more expected in the coming days, Doll said.

The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 840,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.

"Unfortunately, Duke Energy has spent years lobbying and litigating and still has not removed the coal ash from its risky riverfront pits in the coastal area, some of which are in the floodplain", said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who has battled the company in court.

Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could also be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland. That means the storm could easily drop 40 inches of rain in some spots.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.

But the wind is not the main threat to people and property from the storm; it's thestorm surgeandrainfall, which combined have caused serious flooding in the low-lying coastal regions of the Carolinas. Super Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to hit an area in the Philippines on Saturday that would affect 5.2 million people.

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